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5th ASEF Experts’ Meeting and Public Forum: Investing in Heritage Cities: Stimulus for Sustainable Tourism and Livelihoods

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
24-25 June 2013 Asia-Europe Foundation Culture Department ASEF Cultural Policy Project Culture

Yangon, Myanmar

Cities, home to more than 50% of the world's population, are facing the growing challenge of building synergies between economic development and heritage conservation. In recent years, Culture Ministers of Asia and Europe have also encouraged, through the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process, a bi-regional dialogue on the challenges and opportunities of managing urban heritage for a sustainable future.


In light of these ongoing debates on the future of cities, policies and practices of urban heritage conservation gain greater significance and call for a deeper analysis of related challenges, including notions of ‘investment’. Investment in heritage cities goes beyond the economic dimension, which attracts capital, tourists and talent to the city. It also includes a social dimension that includes community empowerment and human capital development. Such a holistic approach is the need of the hour in cities across Asia and Europe, which currently face the predicament of reconciling urban heritage and new developments.


To carry forward these discussions, ASEF organised a two-day Experts’ Meeting and Public Forum, Investing in Heritage Cities: Stimulus for Sustainable Tourism and Livelihoods in Yangon, Myanmar on 24-25 June 2013. The meeting aimed to create a platform for knowledge sharing on sustainable urban conservation policies and practices in Asia and Europe, and foster stronger networks among heritage professionals across the two regions.


Around 30 experts from 18 member countries of ASEM participated as panellists. Participants included representatives of civil society organisations, as well as public officials (representing both ASEM governments and international organisations). The entire proceedings were open to the public and media.


The programme and report of the meeting are available in the Documents section of this webpage.


The 5th ASEF Experts’ Meeting and Public Forum is part of a long-running dialogue series on policy issues of mutual interest and common interest for Asia and Europe. Past Experts' Meetings and Public Forums have taken place in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2012), Melbourne, Australia (2011), Seoul, Korea (2011) and Amsterdam, Netherlands (2010). 


Organised with the support of:


Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy


Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France


  • Hanns Seidel Foundation-Myanmar
  • Yangon Heritage Trust

Project Updates

  • ASEF at the Asia-Pacific Weeks Berlin

    Published on 01 Jul 2013

    ASEF supported the symposium ‘Smart City: The Next Generation - Focus on Southeast Asia’, 8-9 June 2013 in Berlin, Germany. It was organised as part of the prestigious Asia-Pacific Weeks Berlin.

    ASEF’s Deputy Director of the Culture Department, Ms Anupama SEKHAR, moderated a panel on ‘Smart Collaborative Heritage Management’, which highlighted good practices in urban heritage conservation from Asia and Europe. The panellists included Mr Simon MOLESWORTH, Chairman, International National Trusts Organisation, Mr Nils SCHEFFLER, Urban Expert, Berlin and Mr Rene TAN, RT+Q Architects, Singapore. They shared examples of successful public-private partnerships in heritage management from Australia, China, Germany, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.

  • The need to maintain the right balance between economic development and heritage conservation was the core message that emerged from the ASEF Experts’ Meeting and Public Forum on ‘Investing in Heritage Cities: Stimulus for Sustainable Tourism and Livelihoods’, held on 24-25 June 2013 in Yangon, Myanmar. During the two-day meeting, over 30 experts from about 25 Asian and European countries shared good practices from cities in both regions.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony on Monday, 24 June, H.E. Sanda Khin, Deputy Minister of Culture, Myanmar and H.E. Tin Shwe, Deputy Minister of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar acknowledged that the ASEF meeting served to promote greater knowledge exchange between Asia and Europe.

    The vital role of urban heritage in the management of thriving cities was confirmed by the Mayor of Yangon, H.E. U Hla Myint, at the Public Forum on ‘Conservation Strategies for Yangon’s Heritage’ on Tuesday, 25 June.

    Over 100 government officials, heritage experts and tourism professionals from Myanmar attended the event in Yangon. ASEF will present the full set of recommendations from the meeting at the next Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Culture Ministers’ Meeting scheduled to take place in 2014.

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